Doctors and Patients Need to Be Realistic About Weight Loss

Doctors and patients need to be realistic about weight loss goals.

Doctors and patients need to be realistic about weight loss progress. Honest communication is vital if you expect your doctor to help you lose weight. In this article I found on MSNBC, Karen Rowan writes about a new study that shows doctors who are overly optimistic about a patients weight loss do not really help their patients succeed.

It’s important for doctors to be supportive to their patients but too much optimism can set people up for failure. When a doctor overestimates the patients likelihood of following their directions, the doctor becomes dismayed, then the patient feels like a failure when the weight doesn’t come off. Motivated to stick to the weight loss plan begins to wane and often patients give up.

Doctors and Patients Need to Be Realistic About Weight Loss

If you want to know whether you’ll lose weight or not, don’t ask a doctor.In a new study, physicians predicted about 55 percent of patients would be “likely” or “very likely” to follow their recommendations for losing weight, eating healthier or getting more exercise. But three months later, only 28 percent of patients had lost at least two pounds, 34 percent were eating less fat and more fiber, and 6 percent were getting in one more hour of brisk walking each week.

Recordings of doctor’s appointments More than 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the study, the researchers made audio recordings of conversations between 40 doctors and 461 of their overweight or obese patients. The doctors and patients knew their conversations were being recorded, but were told only that the study they were participating in would look at how doctors “addressed disease prevention” with their patients — not that weight loss goals would be looked at, specifically.

After each visit, physicians were asked questions such as: How likely will the patient follow your weight loss recommendations?When considering the patients who the doctors said would likely improve, most of the time, the docs got it wrong. Only 16 percent of those predicted to lose weight actually lost weight over the next three months. Of those that the doctors predicted would follow their healthy eating recommendations, only 19 percent actually improved their eating habits. Four percent of those predicted to get more exercise actually started doing so.The physicians were more often accurate in their guesses about who not improve.

Is optimism good? Doctors’ expectations about their patients ability to change is important, because a doctor with low expectations “can lead to patients being less likely to improve their behaviors,” the researchers said. When patients don’t improve behaviors, doctors’ expectations only sink even lower, and a vicious cycle ensues.

This doesn’t always have to be a negative thing however. Knowing this kind of information is actually a positive thing for some. Some people after reading this might say to themselves “I’m determined not to be one of the negative statistics. Doctors and patients need to be realistic about weight loss and try to communicate honestly with each other.